Milton Hershey School Senior Reflects on Impact of Agriculture and Environmental Education Activities
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is an annual tradition for the state’s agriculture and farming community. Each year, Milton Hershey School students bring what they’ve learned in the classroom and in the barns across campus to showcase their passion for the animals and skill in presenting and grooming them for competition.
MHS Senior Melanie Bartholomew used the 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show as a chance to reflect on the impact Agriculture and Environmental Education (AEE) programming has had on her personally and academically.
How did you get started in AEE programs at MHS?
When I enrolled at MHS in seventh grade, there was a beginner animal club that seventh and eighth graders could join. Although this was during the COVID pandemic, my middle school houseparents encouraged me to join. They knew how much I loved animals and needed a club to help get me out of my shell. My houseparents were very knowledgeable on what AEE had to offer. They also encouraged me to apply and interview to become an Animal Center intern.
Why is learning about agriculture, animals, and the environment important for students?
Students need to know where their food comes from and how it gets from the farm to a dinner table. It’s also important to learn about the time, money, and dedication it takes to provide food locally or on a larger scale. It’s important to learn about the environment so that people know how their actions affect the world they live in and that it’s important to preserve it for the future.
As a senior getting ready to graduate, how has involvement in the MHS AEE programs helped you at MHS?
The AEE programs kept me at the school when things got hard. It gave me a reason to keep going and push forward. The animals will always be there and need me to get up in the morning. They are reminders that there is so much to look forward to in life.
What made this year’s Farm Show special for you? What did you learn about yourself and your animals?
It was my last Farm Show and I wanted to make memories last a lifetime. I learned that my cow, Duchess, gets excited when another cow gets excited. I also learned that she has a best friend and wants to be with her all the time. My goat, Sundae, needs some type of simulation when standing still, but I found the scratchy spot that she loved. I learned about myself that patience is always something that can be worked on. I’m not always the most patient person w
hen it comes to my animals, but we got through it together and did well in the competitions!
Melanie’s 2024 Farm Show Results:
- With Dutchess: 3rd Late Jr. Yearling Heifers (Junior Cattle Show); 8th in her age division (Showmanship Cattle Show); 7th for Late Jr. Yearling Heifers (Open Cattle Show)
- With Sundae: 2nd for Kids born Jan 1, 2022 – Dec 31, 2022 (Junior Goat Show and Open Goat Show)
What was it like to share your passion for agriculture with PA Farm Show visitors and other competitors?
It is fun to engage with the guests and teach them something new. I talked with them and explained whatever action I was doing and why I did it. It’s important to teach everyone correct information on livestock and the industry to minimize the negative thoughts or feelings towards agriculture. It’s different when I get to share my passion with other competitors because they understand where it comes from. It’s truly a phenomenal experience we get to share.
What are your future plans? How has AEE impacted your decisions?
I am planning to attend Lebanon Valley College (LVC) and major in biology with a minor in chemistry hopefully to then become a livestock veterinarian. AEE has impacted my decision to stay in the agriculture and livestock communities and has instilled many values that will stay with me for the rest of my life.